Hello again! Gah! can you believe that this was supposed to be a short fiction? Well at least its shorter than my others. I now have s sneaking suspicion from the reaction of the people who read this to help me edit it that I am better at writing angst than humour. *sob* Oh well, play to your strengths I suppose. I also know that this idea has probably been done to death, but I thought I'd kill it a little more. Hehe

I just want to say thank you very much to Sana, who half inspired this and helped me to name it! See...now you're famous. ^^

Once again, the review button needs attention! Please...? It makes me very happy.


How many times had he dipped the cloth into cooling waters and laid it onto that feverish forehead? How many times had he tenderly wiped the trickles of blood away from the corners of those pale lips, gently adjusting the position of the head so that the blood bought up by racking coughs wouldn't go back into the lungs? Kyouraku winced as another bout of coughing wracked the slender frame before him. This was the worst he had seen his friend for a long time and it hurt him, cut him deep inside to see such a proud man and good friend reduced to this.

Again he wiped the pale face and gained no reaction except a small, pained sigh. Ukitake had been drifting in and out of a fevered sleep for the past few days, and recently he had been so delirious he hadn't even recognised the people around him. People had warned Kyouraku; Unohana, Hanatarou, even Nanao. They had told him that if the fever didn't break soon, if he didn't regain consciousness in the near future, then there was little hope for his recovery. Kyouraku didn't want to believe them. Ukitake had always pulled through. Always.

It hadn't started off so badly. An impromptu coughing fit in a meeting meant that he retired early to rest, but the next day he had been violently sick, and his condition had steadily declined since then. Kyouraku had to admit, despite his careless exterior, he had been worried. He always worried. He knew how stupid his friend could be, how he would sit in dusty libraries for hours on end, despite the fact that the dust aggravated his lungs. How he would go back to work before he was fully better, because he couldn't stand lying in bed while others worked. Kyouraku worried until it got to the point where Nanao, his lovely Nanao-chan, always perceptive, sent him away saying she would do his work. She was a sweet girl really.

He listened to the raspy, uneven breath forced in and out of the others lungs. At least he was fighting. Clawing and biting to hold onto life. That was one of the things he loved about Ukitake, his tenacity. Once he got an idea, or got hold of something he rarely let go and would move heaven and earth to keep it.

It was painfully obvious though that this was one battle he was steadily losing. Every time Kyouraku checked his pulse it was weaker, and his coughing was becoming more frequent, with more blood escaping his lips with each rough exhalation of air.

Kyouraku sighed and once again cooled the cloth on Ukitake's forehead. Not that it made much difference, the unnatural heat burned his fingers when he touched the sick mans skin and no amount of wet cloths or ice had been able to abate it. It was something, Unohana had told him, which just had to right itself. Unable to look at his friends face twisting in pain with every harsh cough he looked up, out of the window at the clear blue sky outside.

Please. Please don't take one of the few people I hold dear to me. Please let me spend a few more nights drinking with him, let me watch as he smiles when I tell him about Nanao-chan's cruelty some more.

He didn't pray to anyone or anything in particular. In his many centuries of life he had seen religions come and go, faithful disciples wipe themselves out to protect their faith, only to have it decline into nothingness, but he had also seen great miracles performed. Mortally wounded shinigami somehow found in the middle of nowhere in time to save their lives, ridiculously outnumbered warriors pulling through by some bizarre stroke of luck, and he was willing to put his faith somewhere, even if it was only in luck, if it would pull his best friend from the brink of death. A bitter smile tugged at his lips as he thought of this, but it was wiped from his face a moment later.

"...your..aku?"

Faint, hoarse, but there. Kyouraku looked down into dull tired brown eyes looking up at him. He couldn't believe it! With a shaking hand he felt Ukitake's forehead. The heat had definitely lessened and some colour had retuned to his cheeks, replacing the grey pallor of before. His fever had broken.

A wide smile broke out on his face as he regarded his sick friend. Inside he felt like an over wound spring which had finally been released, all the tension of the past two weeks had drained out of him and he felt like collapsing. However, he hadn't suffered two thousand years of training for that, so instead he carefully supported Ukitake's head and held a glass of water to his lips. "Drink" he commanded gently.

Ukitake obediently complied, coughing and spluttering a little as the water flowed down his parched throat. Eventually he settled down, even the minor exertion of sitting up slightly and drinking exhausting him. He turned tired eyes to Kyouraku "How…long?"

Kyouraku smiled. "It's not important" When Ukitake opened his mouth again, probably to argue, he silenced him with a wave of a large hand. "Sleep. If you tire yourself out asking pointless questions then you'll have to spend longer in bed"

As Ukitake laid his head back down Kyouraku rearranged his face into a reassuringly smug expression, leaving the white haired captain with no doubt as to who had won, and patted his hand. "Don't worry. I won't set Unohana-taicho on you yet" It relieved him that even in his weakened state Ukitake managed a small smile before falling asleep.

Once he was certain Ukitake was asleep Kyouraku once again raised his head to look out of the window. A prayer eh? Or just coincidence that the fever broke just after his pleadings to the powers that be? Well. It didn't matter really; it's the outcome that's important.

With a small grunt he stood, stretching his stiff limbs. Ukitake was all right now. Perhaps he would go have a drink to steady his rather frayed nerves before telling Unohana that Ukitake had woken up. Perhaps he'd even have three.


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